Political commentator Sue O'Connell joined Boston Public Radio on Thursday to speak about "Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez," a three-part documentary series on Netflix that premiered on Jan. 15. Hernandez, a former Patriots tight-end, committed suicide in jail in 2017 while serving a lifetime sentence for first-degree murder. After his death, Hernandez was found to have severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), associated with repetitive head impacts from playing football.

"I find this story of Aaron Hernandez just an American tragedy," O'Connell said. "The brain damage he suffered from was inflicted upon him when he was a middle schooler playing the type of football that his father and coaches encouraged him to do."

CTE is associated with personality and behavioral changes, including aggression and depression.

"It's not to say that if Aaron Hernandez didn't have any brain injuries that he wouldn't have been a murderer, we don't know," O'Connell said. "But the culture of this toxic masculinity and the culture of football, this is on all of us, in terms of us allowing youngsters to play football."

It's further been revealed that Hernandez was in turmoil over his sexuality, O'Connell noted.

"If he were able to be openly gay or bisexual, or just comfortable with that in whatever way that worked for him, then who knows what kind of person he would have been and what benefits society would have gotten from an Aaron Hernandez who was actually a good citizen."

O'Connell is NECN's political commentator and explainer-in-chief, as well as a co-publisher of Bay Windows and the South End News.